Harmony loses flag football state final to Tampa Robinson

Scott Purks, Orlando Sentinel

Harmony's Ashlee Olson reaches for extra yardage during the Class 1A state flag football championship game against Tampa Robinson. Robinson won a 20-0 victory. (Scott Purks / Correspondent)

TAMPA – Harmony’s girls flag football players may have been frustrated after Saturday’s 20-0 loss to host Tampa Robinson in the Class 1A state championship game, but they were not devastated.

“If we told the girls before the season that they were definitely going to play in the state final they would have been ecstatic,” Harmony coach Paul Strauch said. “We’ve come a long way. We have a lot to be proud of. Right now, yes, it hurts. But overall we have to be pleased with the season.”

On Saturday, Harmony (14-4) struggled to get any offense going against a Robinson defense that had given up only 56 points the entire season and shut out three of its playoff opponents.

For Harmony junior quarterback Shaye Herman it not only was a case of running from constant pressure but of trying to find an open receiver while sprinting from rushers. In the end, Herman completed only 11 of 26 passes for 66 yards and threw two interceptions, one of which was returned 60 yards for a touchdown.

Strauch said Herman’s struggles had a lot to do with Robinson’s well-coached athletes.

“We knew what we were facing in Robinson (which defeated Harmony in the state quarterfinals in 2014),” Strauch said. “They always play well.”

That said, Harmony was solidly in Saturday’s game through most of the first half, trailing only 7-0 after the first quarter and feeling motivated after intercepting a pass late in the second quarter near it’s goal line. A roughing-the-passer penalty, however, gave the ball back to Robinson and made Strauch none too happy.

“That play turned the momentum of the whole game,” Strauch said. “If we get the interception then we go into halftime trailing by only one touchdown at most. Instead, Robinson scores on the possession and goes into halftime leading 13-0. That’s huge.”

The Knights (17-1) pretty much sealed the victory in the third quarter when it returned the 60-yard interception for a touchdown.

“We’ll be back,” Strauch said. “This was Herman’s first year of playing quarterback and she came a long way. She’s a competitor and a lot of these girls are great competitors. We will come back.”

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